This National Film Unit film follows Nobel Prize-winning scientist Ernest Rutherford, from farm boy in the Marlborough Sounds to leading Cambridge University's legendary Cavendish Laboratory. Described by Einstein as "a second Newton", Rutherford was one of the founders of modern atomic physics. Director David Sims pays special attention to Rutherford's colonial upbringing and education, and how it encouraged him to experiment. The atom-splitter famously said of Kiwi ingenuity, "we don't have the money, so we have to think". Rutherford is voiced by actor Grant Tilly.
'No 8 wire' Kiwi ingenuity is defined by problem solving from few resources (No 8 wire is fencing wire that can be adapted to many uses, an ability that was particularly handy for isolated NZ settlers). Embodied in heroes from Richard Pearse to PJ, Kiwi ingenuity is a quality dear to our national sense of self. It has been memorably celebrated, and sometimes satirised, on screen.
Men of the Silver Fern was a four-part celebration of all things All Black, made in 1992 for the centenary of the NZRFU (now known as New Zealand Rugby). This first episode covers the early period from when Charles Monro kicked off the sport in NZ in Nelson on 14 May 1870, through the establishment of rules, provincial unions and the New Zealand Rugby Football Union. The programme surveys the front-running international tours — from the 1884 Flaxlanders to the 1888 Natives, 1905 Originals and 1924 Invincibles — where the All Blacks’ "winning reputation" was forged.
"Kevin has a strict daily routine, part of which is about to be taken away — throwing his life into turmoil." The Kevin in question is Solid Gold FM DJ Kevin Black, and the essential part of his everyday routine being removed is … sleep. This second episode of the 2001 Touchdown reality series — in which varied participants deal with deprivation — sees ’Blackie' slowly but surely disintegrating over 70 sleepless hours. Despite caffeine, gym and jigsaws, his performance at memory game Simon suffers, he faces hallucinations, and the delirious results are heard over the airwaves.
TVNZ’s flagship 80s arts show looks at Sir Toss Woollaston — a pioneer of modern art in New Zealand. Topics include his development as an artist and the “struggle of painting” (contra convention), difficult years trying to support a family, the influence of his wife, and the liberation he felt in his mid-50s when he could finally earn a living from painting. Woollaston is blunt but generous with his time and opinions. There are precious riffs off his famous description of wanting to paint the sunlight in a landscape, “after it had been absorbed by the earth”.
'Our people' at Holmes' 1997 Christmas party included tearaway teenage twins Sarah and Joanne Ingham. Earlier that year the sisters had stowed away on a Malaysian container ship after Sarah had fallen for a sailor. The 18-year-olds made global headlines when they jumped overboard off the Queensland coast, supposedly swam through shark and croc-infested waters and spent two weeks in the bush, before being found and deported back to Nelson. As Holmes tries to elicit soundbites the notorious lasses display the laconic style that made them Kiwi folk heroes.
Artists Prepare was an National Film Unit series that featured prominent performance-based artists of the time. The edition follows poets Sam Hunt and Gary McCormick (the "John Travolta of New Zealand poetry") on tour in the Nelson region as they give poetry readings, talk to high school girls, drink whiskey, and muse about poetry and life — while Minstrel, Hunt's dog, lies patiently under bar tables. Ultra-tight stovepipe jeans, rock-star scarves, scenes in a milk bar and out on the open road in a Valiant evoke a time when poetry and heartthrob weren't antonyms.
This episode of rugby series The Game Of Our Lives looks at the impact the sport has had on race relations in New Zealand. The country's history of rugby forging bonds between Māori and Pākehā is a stark contrast to South Africa's apartheid policy. Tries and Penalties focuses on the troubles between Aotearoa and South Africa — from coloured players George Nepia and Ranji Wilson being excluded from All Blacks tours to South Africa, to the infamous 1981 Springboks tour, and Nelson Mandela opening the 1995 Rugby World Cup final between the two teams.
This National Film Unit newsreel offers a wide-ranging look at ‘the national game’ in 1966. A muddy potted history (scored to rugby folk song ‘On the Ball’) rakes from the age grades to a Ranfurly Shield match, to the apex: the All Blacks. Ex-All Black fullback Bob Scott talks about the need for ‘four stone bantams’ to enjoy the game, while fellow AB Don ‘The Boot’ Clarke discusses the problems for a country player; Wellington College’s 1st XV plays a ‘traditional’ against Nelson in front of a mass haka on the terraces; and club players explain why they play (“it’s a manly game”).
Havoc and Newsboy's Sell-out Tour saw the intrepid pair ramble up and down the country offering their irreverent take on all things Aotearoa. This episode from the second series (subtitled 'Ratings Drive') is a deadpan homage to Discovery Channel as they go on the hunt for dangerous animals. They head to Nelson to cage-swim with sharks; then down to Waimairi Beach sand dunes to check out NZ's deadliest spider, the rare katipō. Finally they don disguises on return to Gore, the town they'd infamously outed as "the gayest in New Zealand" in series one.